Labour say they are committed to working with pro-People's Vote parties to find a way forward - despite a call for a public vote being defeated.
Pic: Caroline Lucas is among those set to meet the Labour leader to find a way forward.
Jeremy Corbyn has invited leaders of the other progressive parties in Parliament to work together, after the leaders of Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the Lib Dems, and Caroline Lucas urged him to back a ‘People’s Vote’.
On Wednesday, the People’s Vote-backing parties wrote to the Labour leader saying: “The only way out of this constitutional crisis is to put this decision back to the people.”
Last night however MPs rejected a motion calling for a ‘People’s Vote’, with just 85 voting in favour. 334 voted against the motion, after Labour urged MPs to abstain. MPs did however vote to seek to extend Article 50.
The ‘People’s Vote’ motion was proposed by The Independent Group’s Dr Sarah Wollaston, a former Tory. Last night the group wrote to supporters saying Labour abstention was a ‘betrayal of Labour Party members, Labour MPs, Labour’s conference policy and, most importantly, the British public.’
The statement said: “Those of our Group who left the Labour Party did so because we believed the hope of changing the leadership’s position on Brexit was gone. Today, sadly, we were proved right. The leadership are determined to deliver Brexit which would harm our country.”
Yet the official People’s Vote campaign had also rejected the timing of the move given the lack of a Parliamentary majority.
Now however, the leaders of Plaid Cymru , the SNP, the Lib Dems, and Green MP Caroline Lucas, are set to meet Jeremy Corbyn in a renewed push for a public vote on the deal.
In a letter seen by Left Foot Forward, the Labour leader responded to People’s Vote-backing party leaders by saying Labour is proposing an: ‘alternative Brexit plan with a permanent customs union, single market deal and dynamic alignment on rights and protections’. But he added that Labour ‘would support a public vote to prevent damaging Brexit proposals.’
Mr Corbyn added: “We are all aware of how urgent the situation now is” and agreed to meet the group urgently. It is not yet clear when this will take place.
Speaking in the Commons after Thursday night’s votes, the Labour leader said:
“After the last few days of government chaos and some defeats, all of us now have the opportunity and the responsibility to work together to find a solution to the crisis facing this country, where the government has so dramatically failed to do so.
“We have begun to hold meetings with members across the House to find a consensus and a compromise that meets the needs of our country.
“But the last few days have also put a responsibility on the Prime Minister. First, to publicly accept that both her deal and no deal are simply no longer viable options. Secondly, to bring forward the necessary legislation to amend the exit date of 29 March.
The cross-party letter in full:
We are pleased to see that the Labour Party has committed to working with Members across the House to find a way to break the Brexit deadlock now that the House has overwhelmingly rejected the Prime Minister’s deal a number of times, and ruled out leaving the EU without a deal at all.
We believe that the only way out of this constitutional crisis is to put this decision back to the people through a People’s Vote on the deal, with the option to remain, as agreed at your party conference.
We hope therefore that you will join us for a meeting of the various parties in the House that are supporting a People’s Vote, to coordinate our approach and maximise the chances of success.
We look forward to your response.
Liz Saville Roberts MP – Westminster Group Leader, Plaid Cymru
Ian Blackford MP – Leader of the Scottish National Party (Westminster)
Sir Vince Cable MP – Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Caroline Lucas MP – Green Party
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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